Investing to help children access jobs of the future

Two North East attractions are in line for a cash investment as part of an initiative to help children access jobs of the future.

Woodhorn Charitable Trust and Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society, both based in Northumberland, look set to receive £635,000 when the Cabinet of the North of Tyne Combined Authority meets on June 4.

The meeting will be the first to be chaired by newly elected North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll following his election victory on May 3.

A report recommends that the organisations receive the grants following a call for projects which were considered by the combined authority’s investment panel.

The cash is intended to encourage more young people to choose a career in STEM - science, technology, engineering and mathematics and develop digital skills to meet demand in key areas of the labour market.

North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll said: “Kids have such great natural curiosity – and that’s the foundation of science, technology and engineering.  The more we can fire their enthusiasm for a career in these industries, the stronger our future economy will be. 

“I was really pleased when I took office that the interim Mayor and the cabinet had started this programme.  Naturally, as an engineer I want to see more of our young people pursue careers in these sectors.”

Cllr Wayne Daley, Portfolio Lead on Education for the North of Tyne Combined Authority, and Cabinet Member for Children’s Services at Northumberland County Council added: “It’s really important that we give our young people the best possible start in life, and we have a unique opportunity to make sure they are given every chance to develop the right skills and qualifications to take up good quality training, apprenticeships and jobs.

“We’re delighted to be working with Woodhorn and Kielder Observatory to deliver these STEM projects, in innovative and inventive ways outside the curriculum, which will help lay the foundations for future generations.” 

Woodhorn and partners will use their £395,000 grant to work with 15-20 first and primary schools in the North of Tyne Combined Authority area to explore STEM subjects and careers, using the area’s STEM heritage up to current day.

A STEM club for 20 children aged 7-11 will be hosted by Woodhorn Museum in the school summer holidays of 2021.

The money will also deliver three short programmes for secondary schools in the area on digital careers and invite professionals to work directly with students.

The Kielder Observatory project will receive £240,000 to inspire primary and secondary aged children with science by using the charity’s state-of-the-art astronomy equipment.

Over the next three years, this funding will enable up to 10,000 children and young people each year to take part in school-based science week experiences when they’ll be taught by members of the observatory’s inspiring young science team and have the opportunity to experience their portable planetarium.  In addition, each host school will receive an astronomy kit complete with telescope and be given access to a dedicated website so that staff and children can continue their studies remotely.  They will also have opportunities to visit the Kielder Observatory with staff and families and stay overnight if they need to, thanks to the Observatory’s close links with nearby Calvert Kielder.

 Chief executive of Woodhorn Charitable Trust, Rowan Brown, said: “We're absolutely thrilled to be considered for this incredible opportunity to support children and young people with the acquisition of science, technology, engineering and maths skills, building on our internationally important technological heritage, and helping to create a more positive future.

 “We are also very grateful to our partners, Northumbria University STEM and the combined authority for their proactive approach to investing in our region's young people.”

Peter Standfield, Chair of the Kielder Observatory Astronomical Society said: “We’re delighted that the combined authority is thinking of investing in our outreach programme that will allow children and young people to experience the wonders of the universe as a means of inspiring closer engagement with the STEM subjects that will help them to access the jobs of the future.”